Timeline: 1st Century BCE (100 to 1)

91  Emperor Wu of China is seventy-five and violence erupts over who will succeed him.

86  Emperor Wu is succeeded by a compromise choice: an eight-year-old who is put under the regency of a former general, Huo Guang.

83  For the Romans, compromise and toleration have not been working politically. General Marcus Sulla returns from wars in the East, and in a civil war and bloodbath he takes power in Rome. Sulla creates a new constitution that gives rule to the Senate and that he believes will restore the republic, order and dignity to Rome.

79  Sulla retires. He believes that peace had been established at home and abroad and that Rome's government is functioning as it had in its glorious past. He grows cabbages and studies Epicureanism.

77  Around this year, the last book of the Old Testament, the Book of Esther, is translated into Greek.

74  Emperor Zhao dies at the age of twenty and is succeeded by another child, Emperor Xuan.

73  A Roman slave, Spartacus, escapes with seventy-seven other prisoners and seizes control of nearby Mount Vesuvius. News of the revolt encourages other slaves, and they join Spartacus on Mount Vesuvius – an army of from fifty to a hundred thousand.

71  Spartacus and other slaves are crucified on the major road in and out of Rome: the Appian way. The latest slave uprising has lowered the demand for slaves. Landowners start replacing gangs of slaves with a less frightening alternative: free people farming as tenants.

68  Regent Huo Guang dies peaceably, but palace rivalry leads to charges of treason against Huo Guang's wife, son and many of Huo Guang's relatives and family associates, and they are executed. With Huo Guang gone, Emperor Xuan is able to exercise more control.

67  The Maccabees family has been renamed the Hasmonaeans. Two Hasmonaean brothers, John Hyrcanus II and Judas Aristobulus, are competing for power, and a civil war erupts.

63   The Roman general, Gneaus Pompey, is in Syria with a Roman army in response to disorder there. Syria is annexed to the Roman Empire. The Hasmonaeans still have an alliance with Rome, and the two warring Hasmonaean brothers seek arbitration from Rome. Pompey and his army march into Judah. Fighting erupts between Jews and the Roman army. The Romans take possession of Judah – territory they call Judea.

58  Julius Caesar goes to Gaul as military-governor.

53  The Parthians annihilate an army of 40,000 Romans.

52 (Oct 3) Leader of the Gauls, Vercingetorix, surrenders to Julius Caesar, ending the battle of Alesia.

50  Around this year the Parthians extend their empire to the Indus Valley. A people called Kushans have been pushing into Bactria against the Scythians there, and the Scythians are pushing into India (to be known in India as Sakas).

49  Rome's senate has worried over Caesar's popularity and has ordered him home from Gaul. On January 10 Caesar crosses the Rubicon River with his army, a forbidden move which means civil war.

48  China has a new emperor, Emperor Yuan, age twenty-seven. He is a timid intellectual who is to spend much time with his concubines. Rather than govern, he will leave power in the hands of his eunuch secretaries and members of his mother's family.

48 (Aug 9)  Caesar's civil war: Battle of Pharsalus - Julius Caesar decisively defeats Pompey at Pharsalus and Pompey flees to Egypt.

48 (Sep 28)  Pompey the Great is assassinated on orders of King Ptolemy of Egypt after landing in Egypt.

47  Caesar returns to Rome as victor. Many Romans think their troubles are over, that at last a champion of the people has secured power and that the gods have granted Caesar good fortune. Caesar is conciliatory with former enemies.

45 (Jan 1)  Julius Caesar's reform calendar, the Julian calendar, goes into effect: twelve months (January to December in English), 365 days per year and one day added in February every four years.

44  Caesar is murdered by Stoic idealists in order to preserve the Roman republic. Reconciliation has not worked.

32  Emperor Cheng has succeeded his father. He also has little enthusiasm for governing and is most concerned with personal pleasures.

30  Civil war has followed Caesar's assassination, and it reduces to Caesar's nephew, Octavian, against Antony and Cleopatra. Antony dies on August 1, at the age of 53. Cleopatra dies eight days later at 39.

29  Octavian returns to Rome a hero. He is to be worshipped as the bringer of peace.

27  Octavian renounces his consulship and declares that he is surrendering all powers, including control of the army. The Senate returns his powers and gives him a title that has the ring of his being divinely chosen, Augustus Caesar, and the Senate makes it law that he be included in the prayers of Rome's priests. In appearance, the Roman Republic had been restored, but ultimate power is still held by Octavian.

23  South of Egypt, the Romans drive back, as far as Napata, the rival imperialist army of Meroe.

19  Augustus Caesar is associating morality with the well-being of the state and the pleasing of the gods. To stay on the good side of the gods he has begun a crusade to revive temperance and morality. He tries setting an example by dressing without extravagance and by living in a modest house. He asks Virgil to write the Aeneid, a story about the gods and the founding of the Roman race.

15  Livy, the Roman historian, is in his forties. He has been writing his history of Rome since the year 29. He investigates the story of the founding of Rome, which is popular among the Romans. It is the story of Romulus and Remus, ending with Romulus vanishing into a thunderstorm, becoming a god and then reappearing, descending from the sky and declaring that it is the will of heaven that Rome be the capital of the world.

6  Emperor Cheng is succeeded by Emperor Ngai, who lives in the company of homosexual boys, one of whom he appoints commander-in-chief of his armies. With the decline in quality of monarchs following the reign of Emperor Wu, some Confucian scholars declare that the Han dynasty has lost its Mandate from Heaven, and this is widely believed.

1  Augustus Caesar has laws passed that he hopes will reduce inter-breeding between Romans and non-Romans. He is encouraging marriage. Romans believe in the family, and they agree that adultery should be illegal. They believe that the virtue of their women helped win favor for their city from their gods. And they continue to be disgusted by criminality.

2nd Century BCE (200 to 100) | 1st Century of the Common Era (CE)

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